It used to be that all wallets where pretty much the same, and the primary difference between them was color, appearance, texture of leather and possibly the number of slots for credit cards. However, people are becoming a lot more savvy when looking at features – and understand that the risks of theft, especially when traveling, lead to the need for a good wallet with security features. Here are some of the best wallets for travel and security purposes.
Some people swear by neck wallets when traveling. They are not where a thief might look for them, and if you are wearing clothes without pockets (especially for women) they can be a life saver. The IGOGEER is a particularly good example. It is compact, but large enough to hold a passport or two as well as your phone. It has four slots for cards in the main pouch and a zippered compartment for cash and keys.
The unique design opens from the side. This well-made travel pouch also blocks RFID readers – an issue with modern chip credit cards and hotel room keys. It is sturdily made, but it only comes in one color – beige – which might make it one of the less stylish offerings in the category. The solid, stretchy straps, though, are a definite plus, and the material is 210D Nylon ripstop for extra strength and security.
This travel accessory looks and acts like a classic leather bifold, slim to fit into small pockets, elegant in appearance and capable of holding 6 to 10 cards and US bills. It might, thus, be a little small for some larger foreign bills, and the lack of the ability to carry coins is more of an issue in countries that have larger denomination coins. If you want something which looks like a classic bifold, but has modern RFID blocking technology to protect cards and hotel keys, though, this will fulfill that need.
It has a pull-tab design to reduce bulk further and access your cards easily when you need them. A slot for standard photo ID is inside. It comes in classic black or a pleasant mocha color. Again, this is for men who want an RFID blocking model, and its small size might make it less suitable for international travel. For domestic trips, though, this is a classic product with high quality materials and a great look for an affordable price.
This is another slim, classic model, but it has an advantage over the Serman in that it does have a space, albeit a small one, for coins. It also holds bills and up to eleven cards. The coin pouch can also be used as a business card protector (although this does mean you can carry change or business cards, not both at once).
Like the Serman model above, it has the pull tab, but it also has three Quick Access slots for the cards you use the most. It’s designed to keep all of your items in one place without taking up a lot of space. This is a classy, upmarket product made from premium, environmentally safe, dyed leather. The non-RFID version comes in a variety of colors, but the RFID blocking version is limited to black and two shades of brown – dark java and a lighter, more orange caramel. It is also slightly more expensive than the non-RFID edition, but this is well worth it for your peace of mind. This is a full featured accessory in a much slimmer profile.
Another leather bifold, this one comes in black, brown, or grey. It can hold up to 12 cards and 30 bills, with a pull tab system, and four quick access slots. It also comes in good leather. Like the Serman, this one is optimized for US bills, so could be a problem if you travel to a country with larger-sized currency. Its biggest security advantage is the FlexLock pockets, which are designed to keep the cards in the wallet until you want them to come out, even if shaken or jostled.
Also, this model has no leather dividers, which can be an issue if the hotel you are staying in has magnetic key cards that should not be kept in the same pocket with your cards. It does, though, hold a lot for its size and the secure pockets are a very nice touch. This is, however, the only wallet covered that does not have RFID protection – if you carry contact less payment cards, you should take that into account, although there’s some difference of opinion on its importance.
So, why are secure wallets important?
First of all, pickpockets are a problem in many places. Neck wallets can help, although they can also be an issue if a thief does grab one. Slimmer billfolds help because they fit more easily in inside pockets, or in the small pockets found on women’s clothing (in some places carrying a purse is definitely a higher risk). To help further, do not carry your wallet in your back pocket – that’s an easy target for thieves. RFID protection is another key element of protection.
Why RFID protection?
Because contact less payment cards, chip-based passports (which most countries now require) and driver’s licenses have embedded radio frequency identification chips. So do chip-based hotel keys, which more and more hotels are switching to. These have the advantage that they do not demagnetize and lock you out. Any chip card can be read by an RFID reader, including without you even noticing if somebody has a handheld reader.
This does not happen as much as other crimes, but it does happen. Chip card technology has been improved to help this, and EMV chip cards (these are the chip and pin cards common in Europe, and the chip and sign cards sometimes provided in the US) cannot be remotely read. And while it’s a small chance, somebody could read your hotel key card and know that particular room is unoccupied at present.
Having the right wallet is one of a few ways you can protect yourself from thieves while traveling.